This is VOA News. Reporting by remote, I'm David Byrd.
The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said Wednesday the Taliban appear to have the "strategic momentum" in their sweeping offensives across Afghanistan but their victory is far from assured.
Speaking at the Pentagon, Milley said the Taliban fighters have made gains in recent weeks but that Afghan security forces are consolidating their gains in urban areas.
"Momentum appears to be, strategic momentum appears to be sort of with the Taliban. The Afghan security forces are consolidating their forces. So part of this is they're giving up district centers in order to consolidate their forces because they're taking an approach to protect the population."
The militants now control about half Afghanistan's roughly 400 districts but none of the country's densely populated main cities.
The Taliban are surging across Afghanistan, snapping up territory, seizing border crossings and encircling cities with the withdrawal of U.S.-led foreign troops all but complete.
The United States and Germany have reached a deal that will allow the completion of a controversial Russian pipeline to Europe without the imposition of further U.S. sanctions. The two governments announced the agreement in a joint statement Wednesday and said it was immediately assailed by members of Congress opposed to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
The deal is intended to address U.S. and eastern and central European concerns about Russia using the pipeline as a political weapon. Both sides committed to imposing sanctions on Russia, including potentially shutting down the pipeline if Moscow does that.
On Wall Street, it was a positive day Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up eight tenths of one percent at the close. The S&P 500 also added eight tenths of one percent while the NASDAQ gained 0.9 percent.
This is VOA News.